Israel plans to close UNRWA schools in occupied East Jerusalem

Palestinian schoolchildren at a school run by UNRWA in the Shuafat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem. (photo: Ammar Awad / Reuters)
The United Nations refugee agency for Palestinians said Israeli authorities did not inform the group of a plan to shut down UNRWA-run schools in occupied East Jerusalem.

By Staff | Al Jazeera | Jan 20, 2019

‘UNRWA’s existence in Jerusalem is not a gift from Israel. There are bilateral agreements binding on Israel to respect the agency’s installations, jurisdiction and immunity in Jerusalem. In addition, Israel is a party to the 1946 Refugee Convention, and such attempts are in violation of this Convention.’
— Sami Meshasha, spokesperson for UNRWA

Israeli media reported that the state’s National Security Council will revoke permits allowing UNRWA schools to operate starting next school year. The schools will be replaced by schools run by the Jerusalem municipality, supported by Israel’s education ministry.

UNRWA runs seven schools in two refugee camps in occupied East Jerusalem, serving a total of 3,000 students.

The Israeli plan is the latest blow to the agency, after the United States’s decision last year to halt its funding.

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization executive committee, said the Israeli decision is “a direct insult to the international community and disregard for its laws and decisions and institutions.” . . .

UNRWA was established in 1949 after 700,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their homes by Zionist paramilitaries in the run-up to the establishment of the state of Israel.

It currently provides services to five million Palestinian refugees in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

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